The two major musical festivals Chicago offers, Pitchfork and Lollapalooza have released their lineups, and it’s got me wondering which festival is actually “better?”
It is sort of unfair to completely compare the two, since they are not trying to do the same thing…exactly.
First of all, Lollapalooza (Lolla) is massive in every imaginable way. Hundreds of bands and sprawled out across Grant Park. When moving with the herd from one end to the next, the crowd can be atrocious. And it really is something of a trek to go back and forth a few times, particularly in Chicago heat — and don’t let the lakefront fool you, that mother is HOT. Layout and comfort-wise, Lolla loses big time. And don’t even get me going on the porta-potties. However, with the huge selection of bands, there is bound to be something you want to see, most likely a couple things you want to see. Lolla just has so many acts that it’s impossible to see more shows at any other event; Lolla wins the numbers game.
Pitchfork is much smaller and a helluva lot easier to cruise around in. The crowds are very different from one to the next. Pitchfork seemed (last year, imho) to be a little younger, a little more hip. Pitchfork costs $80 for the whole shebang, and Lolla rolls in around 3 x’s that much. As a value, Pitchfork kicks Lolla’s ass. The headliners for each event are different as night and day. Lolla’s are dated and uninteresting (appealing to an older crowd) and Pitchforks are more current and less ‘overexposed.’ I think I actually yawned when I heard Depeche Mode would be headlining Lolla. They are great, but this is 2009. Sorry Lolla, but Jesus Lizard, Yo La Tengo and Flaming Lips are simply more attractive to music fans.
It also seems that if you miss a band at Pitchfork, you can probably catch them next year at Lolla. Or be irritated you wasted an hour listening to a “buzz band” whose fifteen minutes should have been up already. I guess it all depends how you like it. I think that Pitchfork is the better festival this summer. But last year, I would have not missed Radiohead for the world. Bottom line: they are both great and Chicago is lucky to have both. It just depends on the year.